How Stress Is Sabotaging Your Weight Loss EffortsOct 25, 2023
Mild or acute stress can be useful for motivation and productivity but when our stress becomes too much, it can impact our health and make our weight loss journey difficult. Stress is inevitable and the key is to be able to manage it. So learning to take control of how you react to stress can help you minimize the effects it has on sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Below I share 5 activities to help you minimize stress but before I jump into those, I wanted to share how your body responds to stress.
The "Normal" Stress Response
When you experience stress, your brain and the pituitary gland respond by releasing Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This then stimulates the adrenal glands to produce the hormones norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol. These hormones stimulate the heart to increase blood pressure and heart rate. It also increases blood flow to your muscles and brain while reducing blood flow to your digestive tract and other internal organs. This is a helpful response to keep you from having to stop to go to the bathroom when you are getting chased by a tiger. Cortisol secretion releases amino acids (from the muscle), glucose (from the liver), and fatty acids (from adipose tissue) into the bloodstream for use as energy. Once you have escaped from the tiger chasing you, your stress hormones return to normal.
The "New Normal" Stress Response
Most of the stressors we experience daily are different from a tiger chasing us. Instead, they are bills, relationships, jobs, daily commutes, deadlines, and what we look like naked. And often with these stressors, we don't see an end in sight which keeps our stress response prolonged with elevated stress hormone levels. Too much of something can't always be a good thing... Elevated levels of cortisol can disrupt metabolism; increasing blood sugar levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, and body fat levels. All of these can increase our risk of disease and contribute to things like weight gain, fatigue, increased appetite, reduced immune system function, and decreased sex drive. When stress is continual, raised cortisol signals fat to be deposited in the abdominal area as it has the most cortisol receptors. High cortisol contributes to blood sugar imbalances, increases appetite & cravings, suppresses immunity, and affects sleep, mood & memory, and even lowers your libido.
This "new normal" stress response makes it extremely difficult for us to enjoy life, feel comfortable in our bodies and feel in control of our moods and eating habits. The best solution to sustainable weight loss needs to start with addressing how we manage our stress because it has such a big influence on our health and results.
Start making it a daily habit to reduce your stress!
Here are 5 activities that you can do every day to help you manage your stress and minimize the effects it has on your health:
1. Have more fun
Doing more things that you enjoy can help you relax and take your mind off things that are likely not worth all the worry you give it. Life can be more enjoyable than you think it is! Find something to make you laugh or bring joy into your life.
2. Express your feelings
Emotions need regular release; unexpressed emotions can build up and create stress, pain, and illness. Try things like journaling or speaking to someone.
3. Get good sleep
Sleep is a time for our bodies to reset and recharge. Without it, we don’t get this important time for our bodies to release any tension. It's important to create a good sleep routine!
4. Exercise & move your body
Regular exercise can help release tension and it also leaves you feeling good with more energy to take on whatever it is you want to do.
5. Change your perception and attitude
It is wise to check in on your current views to see if they are serving you. Try looking at the big picture (life) instead of looking at the little struggles you go through. Ask why you are facing certain challenges and view them as opportunities for growth and learning.
"Life happens for you, not to you." - Ed Mylett
If you are looking for personalized support with your health and want to know what it would be like to have a health coach supporting you on your journey, reach out to me! I would love to hear from you.
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